News Article

Maryland’s U.S. Senators hold ‘Fireside Chat’ with local business leaders
August 17, 2023


By: Rob Petree

OCEAN CITY, Md. – It was two for one today in Ocean City as both of Maryland’s U.S. Senators held a special discussion with local business leaders.

The forum was a ‘Fireside Chat’ that was held in conjunction with the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Ocean City Chambers of Commerce. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen where on hand to discuss a variety of topics.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy,” Sen. Van Hollen said. “We’re making sure they have the resources they need to provide low interest rate loans, to provide guarantees, and provide other economic tools that small businesses really need.”

That was the sentiment shared at Friday’s discussion at the Golden Sands resort in Ocean City. U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen both stressed how small business can make or break the local economy while also highlighting keys areas where change is needed most.

“The rural Maryland challenges appear to be access to capital, workforce issues, getting the trained workers that they need, and connectivity because of the importance of connectivity to the internet,” Sen. Cardin stated. “These seem to be the three major issues that we hear from small businesses in the rural part of our state.”

With COVID-19 relief funds now in the rear view mirror, Sen. Cardin says it’s imperative that local businesses have the resources they need to thrive.

“On the Eastern Shore we have challenges with H2B visas,” Sen. Cardin said. “We have Ocean City re-nourishments, the issues in Salisbury, UMES, and other institutions.”

Also discussed was the planned wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City, which is something Senator Van Hollen said he supports.

“The idea is to have these very, very, very far offshore,” Sen. Van Hollen stated. “I think it’s a really good example actually of our efforts to try to make the transition to a cleaner energy economy.”

Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bill Chambers tells us he was encouraged by the words of the Senators.

“They told the truth, and what I mean by telling the truth is exactly that, they didn’t sugar coat anything,” Chambers said. “They tackled these issues head on, talked about some of their accomplishments as United States Senators, and I think hopefully this is the beginning of a continued dialogue where we get these top leaders in a room to talk to the business community.”

Moving forward, both Senators say they will continue to put an increased focus on the business needs here on the shore when it comes to the issues discussed at today’s forum.